November 14, 2014
Everyone’s story of coming to faith is different, as is the working of God in each person’s life. But His truth never changes. Each story is a testimony to the mercy, grace and miracle power of God revealing Himself to undeserving sinful people. And once God comes to a person, they are never the same. As a boy I loved hearing testimonies, reading the great stories of heroes of the faith, and seeing the love of God through Jesus to rescue His people. These stories have always been encouraging to me, and showed me a picture of the Father’s great love. So many awesome works of God!
But, I used to think I didn’t really have a testimony. I loved hearing others stories, though I felt that I had nothing very exciting to share with others. I mean, I wasn’t saved out of a drug culture, or had a near-death experience while driving drunk, had not evangelized lost tribes, or been rescued from some cult. And, I haven’t seen a stunning vision of heavenly thing to share.
However, I realized that this in and of itself part of my testimony – of the mercy of God to spare me and save me at an early age from the pain of many destructive choices, yet to also allow difficult things to come into my life, that I might come to know the faithfulness of God in the good, and the bad times. And to know Him in a more personal way than ever before.
Growing up in a godly, conservative home I was taught from a young age to fear the Lord, love the Scriptures, and understand that Jesus Christ is the only way to be reconciled to God. I was surrounded by loving parents who taught me the value of hard work, and sacrificed much to live out a life of service to Christ. Our home had lots of love. At a young age I consciously surrendered my life to Christ and wanted to live as a Christian. As I grew older and entered my college years I was blessed to have obtained academic scholarships, excelled in my education, and began to look forward to what else life would hold pursuing business as well as finding ways to be involved in ministry. I had a genuine love for God, and what my parents had instilled in me became my own personal relationship as I grew in my understanding of what Christ had done for my sins in bearing the wrath of God, and how my standing as righteous before Him was by faith in the finished work of Jesus. I loved studying and learning and was very self-reliant and driven to succeed. There was little I couldn’t do or didn’t enjoy, and life progressed just great.
Time passed quickly and I enjoyed opportunities to travel, had a job I loved, a good living, avenues of ministry to others, a beautiful wife, and several children. I was tremendously blessed and life was good. However, something had crept into my life that I did not realize. I was proud. Proud of all God had given me. Thankful yes, but proud too. Proud of bad decisions I had not made and proud of good choices I had made. I loved the good things I was able to do and how I was able to help people, and had many friends. Loved my family deeply; loved the image I had and the positions I had… all wonderful things in and of themselves. But as you can see, there was lots of “me” in my thinking, even as I sought to serve and love the Lord. Sadly, I had grown to love the gifts more than I loved the Giver of the gifts.
But God in His mercy has ways of caring, training, and loving His children that at times don’t make much sense. In a very short period of time, I lost my wife to divorce, lost my financial resources, and faced losing my children. My reputation was questioned, and integrity investigated. I was devastated, confused, hurt and couldn’t understand why God had allowed all to be taken from me? I loved Him! I served Him and desired to train my own children in righteousness. But, God allowed me to go through a season of deep sifting, to the point where I came to realize I had nothing left but Him. And at that point to discover that even if I have nothing, in the treasure of having Christ and being known by Him, I had everything I truly needed. It was very hard. I was mistreated by some, accused and scoffed at by others, and lost friends.
But, in the darkest months of my life I came to know Jesus in a deeper, more intimate and real relationship than ever before. He met with me. I saw Him answer prayers, defend, provide, humble me and give me a deeper love for Himself. When the Lord draws near to a person and reveals Himself, everything else dims in comparison to the richness of fellowship that only He can bring. Pain doesn’t go away, but He meets a person in the midst of it and ministers life and peace. I would spend hours reading the Bible and just fellowship in with God in prayer. The Holy Spirit would reveal things to me and give me a joy in the midst of difficulties, along with the grace to forgive those who had hurt me since my Savior had forgiven me of all my sin and failings. Sometimes I would have to “fight for joy” and it would take time, but in His perfect timing Jesus always met me and lifted my eyes to Himself. During this time I was the recipient of so many people being a channel of God’s love to me through unexpected ways, and was such a huge encouragement as I saw God meet financial needs, physical needs, and provide beyond my expectations.
Now, years later, I don’t have all the answers. I find myself puzzled still as to the “why’s” sometimes. Yet I do know the faithfulness of God. He has sustained me, restored so much to me, and given me a heart to walk humbly before Him. My children are a joy to me, and I delight in walking out a real, living relationship with Jesus before them, teaching them how good and loving and true our God is. And rather than living my life for me, my heart’s desire is to live it to bring Him glory. It’s all a life of faith, and all about Him. Faith for salvation, faith in the journey, faith when I fail, and trust in the sovereign purposes of God for the daily trials and challenges of life. And in trusting Him, there is a peace that passes all understanding.
And so, I realized I did have a testimony. A story of how God is faithful, and good to continually transform His children into the image of Christ. His overwhelming mercy and grace is beyond compare, and I truly can trust Him. We never know what the future holds, or what new twists and turns life will take. But we can know the One who holds the future! I have proven His faithfulness to never leave nor forsake me. There are things I still have to trust Him for and wait for answers. But, I know He will answer. You see – He is the Giver of all good gifts. He is the Treasure that alone will satisfy our hearts.
“Draw near to Him, and He will draw near to you.”